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Summary:

Another day, another wrinkle in the ongoing Viacom v. YouTube legal soap opera. This time, Viacom has YouTube employees in its sights. To recap: First, a judge ordered YouTube to hand over its user viewing data to Viacom. Then YouTube said it was asking Viacom if […]

Another day, another wrinkle in the ongoing Viacom v. YouTube legal soap opera. This time, Viacom has YouTube employees in its sights. To recap:

  • First, a judge ordered YouTube to hand over its user viewing data to Viacom.
  • Then YouTube said it was asking Viacom if it could strip out identifier information in the data.
  • Then Viacom denied that it ever wanted the user information and said that it didn’t want any of that information anyways.

Now comes word from CNET that Viacom is seeking information about YouTube employees’ activities on the site.

At issue is whether or not YouTube employees uploaded or were aware of copyrighted works on its own site. If Chad Hurley, for example, uploaded a copyrighted clip, or knew of copyrighted works on the site, it’s possible YouTube could lose its protection under the DMCA.

This is a big deal, and the employee user information should be easier for Viacom to procure than general user data. If YouTube was smart in the early days, they had a bulldog lawyer who laid down official corporate policy that banned employees from surfing through the site. Sounds silly, I know, but at least they’d have had something on the books that forbade it.

  1. This whole thing is insane. It’s like trying to stop a flood with paper towels. Give it up, Viacom, you cannot throttle the free exchange of information.

  2. George Riddick Monday, July 14, 2008

    Wow … another significant move. The Vacom legal team to thromping through the woods. This is not a good time for the witches to try and hide.

    Does anyone want to wager whether the founders of YouTube knew they were uploading copyright protected materials into their web sites?

    Might this go down as the $1.65 billion scam?

    George

    Ding dong … the witch is dead!

    … or at least she is starting to melt!

    Wow … I would say this is very good news for the entire copyright industry. While potentially inconvenient to YouTube viewers, and understanding the importance of privacy protection in the complex world of the Internet these days, this decision by the judge in the Viacom v. Google/YouTube case in New York may be the best thing that has happened to the copyright industries in this country, and to our overall economy, in practically a decade.

    I have been following this infringment case, and others like it, now for several years. I, for one, am sick and tired of the Google’s of the world blaming their own customers for all of the infringing activity that occurs day in and day out over the Google sponsored networks. Who do you think gains the most financially from these obvious infringements – Google or the poor smuck in Louisville who does not have a clue what is right or wrong, let alone what is infringing and what is not?

    In fact, if it is true that an individual typically adapts his or her production and viewing habits from what they see and are taught by the larger media, entertainment, Fortune 500, and technology companies in this country (“if this weren’t legal, certainly mighty Google wouldn’t encourage it as they do or run AdSense ads on the infringing sites, and Exxon/Mobile wouldn’t be placing ads on the sites that are displaying the “shared” works, either”) then who do we really have to blame for this chaos? You guessed it.

    It is an unfortunate reality today that many of the copyright defense lawyers, and their publicly financed clients out to make the big bucks regardless of the rules, have made a mockery of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (the DMCA), which was signed into law in 1998 by President Clinton. Like the music industry has learned in the school of hard knocks (aka “the real world”), it is virtually impossible today to hold the middlemen in these unlawful Internet distribution channels and networks accountable. So, what do the copyright companies have to do to protect their valuable property? Go directly after the often innocent “end users” who are often sucked into this game, more often unknowingly than not. It is shameful.

    Perhaps this New York court decision will help to turn those tides.

    Google enables widespread copyright infringement activity like no other company on this planet. Google subsidizes entire networks of infringers through it Adwords and AdSense marketing and advertising programs. Google facilitates willful copyright infringement. Google enables widespread copyright infringement. Day in and day out. Google causes enormous damages to legitimate copyright holders every second of every single day. Google has been doing this for years. They earn a substantial portion of their overall revenue and profits by sponsoring illegal activities over the Internet. And their operations outside the U.S. are far more egregious than the infringement activity we see referenced in this Viacom case, which is largely within our borders.

    I, for one, have had enough. Baseless, if not ludicrous, excuses and piracy defense strategies, implemented by what used to be some of the finest copyright law firms in this country – “fair use”, “safe harbor”, “no harm”, “unclean hands”, “de minimus damage”, “copyright misuse”, “DMCA safeguards”, “willful blindness”, “laches”, and on and on, can drag these cases on for years – haven’t we seen it all?

    What do the legal terms all mean in Google’s true vernacular? How about this. “We are big. We are powerful. We can do anything we damn well please. Quit complaining, copyright owners, or we’ll cut you off from all the online revenues streams, as well”. Better yet, “… if you don’t conform, we’ll simply run some of this stuff from our operations in Brazil , Russia , India , and China (those BRICS have plenty of money), and let them beam the content back here to the states.”

    Aren’t you tired of watching Google hide behind the skirt-tails of their customers. “They were the ones who loaded the illegal videos onto our system, not us.” Or , better yet, “how were we to know that Bart Simpson and the Spice Girls weren’t already in the ‘Public Domain’?”

    Is Google alone in this? Unfortunately, the answer is no. Microsoft, AOL, Yahoo, and others are moving as fast as they can to mimic and duplicate Google’s cash cow system, whether the law is violated or not. Cash is the king. And copyrights from the creative industries are not the only victims. Haven’t you seen lately, similar claims (and penalties) levied against these giant Internet companies for their advertising efforts to support, or even subsidize in many cases, the distribution of harmful pharmaceutical drugs and counterfeits over the Internet, sponsor illegal gambling and pornography web sites, and many others too numerous to mention. Billions and billions and billions of dollars every single month.

    “What do you expect us to do, your honor. Try out every single drug our customers illegally deliver just because we provide the advertising revenues for them to survive?”

    This kind of unlawful activity not only helps to destroy our economy, it breaks down the moral fiber of our society. What makes you think this young generation that has grown up witnessing these wide scale unlawful activities delivered to them (usually “free of charge”) via the Internet, will be able to draw a distinction between the virtual world and the physical world where STEALING is concerned as they get older and have to put food on a table full of their own babies and elderly parents? The jury is still out on that one.

    I applaud the nerve, and the intelligence, of the judge up there in New York who presides over this case between Google and Viacom. Maybe your recent ruling will cause all of these Internet parasites to wake up and see the error of their ways before it is too late for all of us.

    As a pleasant footnote to copyright holders. Do you think the judge would have allowed the complete user logs of YouTube to be released in this case if the outcome of this case was not leaning in Viacom’s direction? I certainly do not. This may, indeed, be one of the most important weeks in the history of protecting the original works of copyright owners in this country … one of the few absolute rights that was guaranteed to all of us in our Constitution over 200 years ago.

    Congratulations New York . Congratulations copyright holders. It must feel good to know you have some judges up that way have your best interests at heart in enforcing our critically important (and “endangered”) copyright laws and maintaining the delicate balance between managing and policing unbridled growth (i.e. “growth at ANY cost”) over the Internet and maintaining our vital and long standing ethical, moral, and legal business practices going forward, while looking out for your best interests.

    … which old witch … the wicked witch!

    George P. Riddick, III
    Chairman/CEO
    Imageline, Inc.

    griddick@imageline2.com

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  4. David Mullings Monday, July 14, 2008

    Viacom has a right to know whether or not YouTube purposely uploaded copyright content in an effort to drive traffic to their website.

    Becoming rich without paying the people whose content you used to get rich is simply unethical and should not be tolerated in a capitalist society.

    If I spend the money, time and effort to create content for sale, I should get paid for its use to generate revenue, I am not giving it away.

    If YouTube is innocent, then it should have nothing to hide and be willing to turn over the data. Viacom is no being a bully, they are exercising their rights in a capitalist society.

  5. Of course they knew/know, they FEATURE videos with copyrighted material!

  6. BizWatch | YouTrouble la orizont. Monday, July 14, 2008

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  7. Wow George nice diatribe, google the evil witch.
    Google gives to there “customers” which are the Youtube
    users what they want.
    A free space to post the content they have yes some of that may be “copyrighted” content but for me thats a good thing, it gives me a change to see something I may have missed or had no Idea was on some place in the world.
    It lets me see show’s that have been off the air for years but sitting in someones video tape collection.

    Trying to harm youtube helps no one..
    It sure does not help me in anyway.

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